Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Alexander Hamilton On the Brain

Back in the Fall, we watched a 60 Minutes interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda about his new Broadway musical “Hamilton”.

As in Alexander Hamilton.

The guy on the $10 bill.

Lin-Manuel picked up a copy of an Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow several years ago before vacation.

He could not believe Hamilton’s story. He was so enthralled by it that he wanted to bring it to the stage.

Lin-Manuel actually Googled Alexander Hamilton FOR SURE that someone had already done a Broadway musical on him.

He was THAT memorized by the story.

As it turns out, no one had thought to take that to the stage.

So he wrote it.

Did I mention the musical is done in the style of rap and hip hop?

It’s so popular that it’s been sold out for many months.

Monte tried to get us tickets when we were in New York in November and he got laughed at.

McDaniel just got back from New York with her school and she entered a lottery every day to try to get tickets.

Never won.

Lin-Manuel’s enthusiasm and fascination with Alexander Hamilton is absolutely contagious.

McDaniel and Ellie have been listening to the Broadway soundtrack for “Hamilton.”

Ellie made the comment that it would’ve helped her on a history test 
if she’d started listening to the soundtrack just a little bit earlier.

A week before our spring break trip in March, Monte came home with the Alexander Hamilton biography.

It’s collegiate text book in size.

The bibliography alone is 100 pages.

I quickly read through the book that I had brought to the beach, so I picked this monster up.

I was hooked just a few sentences in.

Monte fought me for reading time.

We worked out a deal that we’d each read a chapter at a time and then discuss it.

Believe me, this is no fast read. 

Each chapter is like an entire class. There’s THAT much information. And action. And drama. 

It’s awesome!

The girls were thrilled we were reading the book so they could share the soundtrack with us.

Lin-Manuel crams so many facts in his songs that we felt like we could only listen to the songs as we reached the appropriate parts in the book.

By the end of spring break, we were only 100 or so pages into the biography and we’d only listened to the first song.

And we were dedicating a lot of time during the day to reading.

The book was so heavy that I started experiencing elbow pain from the weight of holding it!

We told the girls that they could only listen to the “Hamilton” soundtrack with headphones so that we could experience Alexander Hamilton’s life through the book.

They sang so loudly along with their headphones one morning that our hotel “neighbors” wanted to know “who the singer was” when we saw them them by the pool.

We tried to explain what the girls were singing and showed them our thick book but the message was received.

Pipe. Down. 

We let them sing their hearts out by the pool as long as we couldn’t hear them so we could read as fast as we could and then discuss what we’d just read.

I can only imagine what the other carefree, vacationers must’ve thought of us.

They were a mixed bag of folks:  French Canadians, Germans, a few upstate New York families and then the pool guy, Joe, from Boston, who Monte followed around everywhere (while it was my turn with the book) asking him important questions like,

“Whatcha doing now?”

“How long until the dune grass gets bigger?”

“You weed eating, Joe?”

But I kind of understand.

When we weren’t reading the book, we talked about the book.

Waiting for the other person to catch up to where we were was like watching. paint. dry.

Or watching Joe pour chemicals into the pool.

Now that we are back home, we haven’t had nearly enough time to read as we’d like.

We are only up to the second song on the soundtrack.

It’s funny how so many things around me remind me of the book.

I heard someone mention a college visit to Columbia University and I’m all like,

“Alexander Hamilton went there. But it was called King’s College back then.”

Or how my hair dresser yesterday was talking about a recent tour she took in New Orleans and how the French used the city area to house slaves.

“Thomas Jefferson orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase.
Alexander Hamilton was an abolitionist.”


I’m trying to be realistic on when I’m getting this over-700-page monster completed.

And by realistic I mean, not go into full-on bad mom mode 
and not cook, 
or shower 
until the book is done.

No. I will NOT do that.

This time.

So I’m thinking by July.

Monte is saying by NEXT July.
As in 2017.

But it did take him over 2 years to read “Team of Rivals."

This was a whopper of a book too.

There was some tense discussion as Monte left for out of town this morning as to who would get to keep the book.

I offered to buy another copy which did not appeal to Monte’s thrifty side,

“What? Are we MADE of money?”

So it was settled.

I kept the book.

I can’t wait to see what happens next…


  1. I keep hearing so many positive things about this musical including, from parents, can you please make one about math? I love that it is sparking interest in history - might have to think about reading that fat book you two are feuding over :) (As for the window cleaner, I did like it. I am not sure what purpose the corn starch serves and will try another version without it after this one is empty. I am wondering if it possibly helps with water spotting - of course we have well water filled with minerals that tends to leave spots so this may be wishful thinking on my part.)

  2. We are such nerds, and history is our favorite topic. I love the way the story of Alexander Hamilton is being shared in a way that captures people's imaginations.

    And I love the fact that we aren't the only family with Doris Kearn Goodwin's books on our shelves. My husband recently finished The Bully Pulpit.

    When you're ready for a little less substantial but also amazingly compelling read, pick up All the Light We Cannot See. Seriously.


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